CLEVELAND – Perspective was the word of the day for Juan Toscano-Anderson, the underdog Oakland native who has been relegated to the end of the Golden State Warriors’ list this season.
Despite being displaced in the rotation this week by 19-year-old lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga, it was the 28-year-old former two-way player that coach Steve Kerr called Thursday night when the Warriors needed a spark in the second half. , fulfills the prophecy Kerr has been preaching since he made the choice to choose rookie.
“You just have to stay positive and be ready when your time comes because your time always comes,” Kerr said before the tip-off. Toscano-Anderson had been walking for more than a week without seeing the floor for more than 7 minutes on any given night. But he gave Golden State 16 solid minutes in the second half, an important part of its 36-8 final quarter that sealed their comeback victory over the Cavaliers. Afterwards, Kerr said, “That’s exactly why you need a guy like Juan.… I could not be more proud of him. I decided to go to Jonathan in front of him and he managed it beautifully and stayed ready and took advantage of his opportunity tonight. ”
The local kid endured himself against his teammates and the Warriors’ fan base the past two seasons as a role player on teams that at best did not reach the playoffs, or worse, ended up with the worst record in the NBA.
A self-confident Toscano-Anderson described his journey last season as an ash pot story.
But after finding the legendary glass slipper last season, it has not fit quite the same way this year.
With the additions that heralded rookies like Kuminga and Moses Moody, as well as veterans like Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica and Andre Iguodala, Toscano-Anderson knew this season would be a match in minutes. He averages just 11.8 per game this season, nearly half the last two years.
But that’s only part of the perspective that Toscano-Anderson is talking about. (He used the word at least half a dozen times in interviews alone on Thursday.)
Just a day earlier, Toscano-Anderson was given a fresh dose when his phone rang. It was his brother at the other end. Something serious had gone down, though Juan refused to elaborate on exactly what.
“So I sit here and sometimes I’m sad that I’m not allowed to play, but my family, my brother, who is so close to me, has to deal with real life (pronounced),” he said. “And here I’m complaining about basketball.”
When Toscano-Anderson grew up as a Warriors fan and saw their dynastic run in the first half of the last decade, Toscano-Anderson himself wants to get a taste of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, whether it means spot-minutes or a lead role .
The hometown kid who plays for the local team earns money playing basketball on television and in front of thousands? Toscano-Anderson realizes that it sounds like a pretty sweet concert.
“Yes, of course I want to play more. Everyone wants to play,” he said. “But I’m on the best team in the NBA, my hometown team, I’m going to play with the Hall of Famers. … I could be anywhere else in the world. I could be on any other team. I could be on a losing team. I could be back in the G League. … That’s perspective, man. ”
It helps to have a coach who was in a similar position as he was trying to establish himself in the league more than two decades ago. Kerr has the trust and respect of Toscano-Anderson, despite difficult choices that have not always gone in his favor. Throughout, Kerr has kept telling him that his time was coming.
“I’ve been in his shoes since I was a player. It’s a hard place to be in,” Kerr said. “Human nature is to come down when you’re not a part of things. To really do that in this league as a reserve, you can never let yourself go down that road. ”
Toscano-Anderson added: “When you have a coach who believes in you, it’s the one who makes the difference.… I think Steve is really good at what he does. I think he has a really good feel for his players. … I trust what he does. ”
Thursday night, he forced himself back into the spotlight. A number of him, Bjelica, Porter, Steph Curry and Damion Lee limited Cleveland to eight points in the fourth quarter. Kerr left him out there all quarter. When it was time for Draymond Green to step in, Kerr Porter called up from the floor instead.
“I always tell Juan that the minutes are up and down, but when the fights get tough, your number gets called up,” Green said. “Tonight we could not get any traction at the defensive end and his number was called and he was ready.”
“His energy was contagious,” Curry said. “And then in the fourth quarter, it picked up speed at both ends of the floor.”
Toscano-Anderson came in for the first time with three to four left in the third quarter. He never left court.
The Warriors surpassed the Cavs by 21 in Toscano-Anderson’s 16 minutes, which proved to be what turned the match in Warriors’ favor.
Before calling Toscano-Anderson’s name, Kerr called him up.
He should be angry about benching the last couple of games, Kerr told him during the break.
So when he got his chance, he played like that.